Graham Norton has said he does not try to justify his BBC salary.
The TV and radio presenter was revealed to be among the corporation’s top three highest earners this year following figures released as part of its annual report.
Sports presenter Gary Lineker retained his status as the highest earner with an annual pay packet of between £1,750,000 and £1,754,999, while Norton was third on the list behind former BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans (£1,250,000-£1,254,999).
Norton’s pay packet – listed as between £610,000 and £614,999 – is for the work he does presenting his BBC Radio 2 show and “a range of programmes and series” which do not include his chat show, the BBC said.
Norton, 56, who has also penned several books, told Radio Times magazine he is wealthier “than I ever thought I’d be or planned to be”.
He said: “All the people who say, ‘He earns that, he doesn’t deserve that’, they’re absolutely right. You cannot justify my wages, so I don’t try.
“Am I still cashing the cheques? Yes, because somehow the market forces have decreed this is my value. I don’t discuss money. I don’t meet (BBC director-general) Tony Hall and go, ‘Actually, Tony, I’d like some more. Thanks, Tony’.”
The BBC faced a backlash when it first revealed presenter salaries in 2017 due to the lack of women featuring in the top pay brackets at the time.
This year three women – Zoe Ball, Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman – featured in the list of top 10 earners for the first time.
The corporation was forced to reveal the pay packets of its top on-air and on-screen talent earning more than £150,000 following the new Royal Charter as set out by Government in 2016.
Norton told Radio Times: “For some reason, MPs want to know what famous people at the BBC earn. If they could get ITV to tell them what Phillip Schofield gets, they’d love to know.
“Also, I have to say, what would really shock the public is to discover the disparity between ITV and BBC. People would go, ‘Wow!’”
“Also, you may hate me or Gary Lineker (£1.75 million) or Zoe Ball (£370,000), but that’s not just what the licence fee is paying for.
“It’s paying for this overall thing. And it’s not like I want to dob people in it, but you read that list and go, really? Me and Gary Lineker are top of the tree? No. We all know there are people who earn a lot more than me and Gary.”
Norton will this week make his debut as a rotating judge alongside Alan Carr on the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race on BBC Three.
The full interview is in this week’s issue of Radio Times